Categories: Project Tips and Tricks
Finding Your Software Solution
At some point in time, almost everyone was taught or discovered that when you put two and two together, you had four items. Simple, if you had two sets of two items. As people grow and learn more and more, problems grew accordingly. Things expanded, changed unexpectedly, or became rigid and difficult.
Finding a software solution of any sort can feel the same way. It starts out simply–we want something that lets us do x,y, and z without complications. We have this amount of resources to put into it and we want it by this date.
Then, compromises start to be made and deadlines begin to shift. Suddenly, the world just got complicated and the problems are not going anywhere. People become frustrated and move back to the old ways of doing things, with all the orginal problems that prompted the move in the first place. How do you find the right software solution?
Finding your software solution is a process in and of itself. Here are three major questions that mark different stages of the discovery journey.
- What is our need?
- What will we use to fill our need?
- Who will we work with?
Let’s look at each one of these questions and the steps it marks in finding your software solution.
What is Our Need?
The software world at times can seem to speak a different language. Salespeople are eager to provide shiny examples, demonstrations and stories along the way. Sometimes, a simple translation is not always available through all the fuss. This highlights why it is good to have a thorough understanding of what you and your company have currently and need now or in the near future.
For new startups and smaller companies, pressing needs will be more generic. Tracking marketing campaigns, collecting customer data, and recording employee hours are simple tasks. Off-the-shelf software solutions work admirably for these needs for a certain amount of time, depending on the growth and development of the company.
On the other hand, if your business relies on a specialized product, specific industry with unique needs (such as healthcare) or other highly-individualized need, some level of customization will be needed right away. Manual workarounds may take care of the issue for a time, but eventually a tipping point will be reached. What do you need and value most?
What Will We Use?
The next part of the discovery journey is figuring out what will fill the company’s need within the parameters that the company has set. Much of this answer will depend on the problems that you have identified previously and the restrictions that the company has put into place. Still, some things hold true when making the decision between a packaged solution vs. a custom application.
A packaged solution tends to be less upfront cost, easier to put into action, and fairly intuitive, depending on the software used. Many applications are widely spread, increasing the probability that someone in the company is already familiar with the product.
The drawback is that everyone else could be using the same products and getting the same results! Off-the-shelf solutions leave you at the mercy of the people behind the product and don’t tend to scale well past a certain point.
Custom solutions require considerably more time up front, but less time after they are installed. Because they are custom made for you and your business, no one else will have the exact reports, data, or other information that you are pulling. Processes can be streamlined to your needs and, when well done, manual workarounds are a thing of the past.
These added benefits do come with additional cost. It will take up more time and money on the front end, as well as additional training and onboarding for the entire company. The product will not be ready for some time, perhaps months. But when it is completed, it will be your company’s product and no one else’s.
Who to Work With?
Will you be working with a customer support team, an offshore team of developers, or an inhouse group of dedicated workers? How about an agency of some sort? Some simply ask the existing IT employees to work through the kinks and introduce the solution to the rest of the company.
The key to remember here is: know what you need and find out who can do it for you. Communication is a must, no matter who the vendor is or where they are from. How long have they been around? What have they done in the past? Who have they worked for and who has enjoyed working with them? Ask for referrals and look around at who other people are using. Just because this may be your first experience does not mean other people haven’t walked the path before you.
At Swan Software Solutions, we understand the difficulties that you face in trying to find your software solution. With over thirteen years of experience, a wide and diverse range of experiences, and a top-of-the-line team, we are ready and waiting to help you along the discovery journey. Contact us today to learn more!